Friday, October 8, 2010

Elyse Fitzpatrick - Submission Is Harder Than You Think

I was tremendously blessed and challenged today by this post, written by Elyse Fitzpatrick, that I ran across while perusing The Gospel Coalition website. She begins her post...

As a Christian woman and a wife, I’ve heard a lot of teaching on the topic of submission over the years. I assume that most women who attend good churches have, too. I’ve also had disturbing conversations with egalitarian women who think that submission is mutual in marriage: husbands and wives equally submitting to one another. Gallons (drums?) of ink have been spilled over the roles of men and women in the home and the true definition of what it means for a wife to submit to her husband. Yes, submission has been a hot topic in Christian circles for years.

From this point in her post she shifts from a more woman specific perspective on the issue and more broadly identifies what true Biblical submission means for both men and women. I won't re-post the entirety of her post, but allow me to select a few of the passages that I believe cut most deeply and directly to the heart and matter of her post.

But there’s one form of submission that Paul speaks of that I’ve never heard anyone discuss—at least not in those terms. Here’s Romans 10:1-4:

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Isn’t that the difficulty with true Christianity? It forces us all, women and men, to subordinate ourselves—to bow low beneath the truth that if we want to be righteous we must give up all our efforts at righteousness and submit to his.

I ought to rejoice that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness,” but I’m not sure that I always do. Yes, of course, when I’m in my right mind, I exult in the truth embodied in those words. But there are other times, and far too frequently, when I find myself relying on my obedience to the law so that I can assure my own heart and beg to squirm out from under the total submission he’s demanded of me. You mean I can’t rely on myself at all? Really? Can’t I just craft a little something to hang on to when I start to doubt whether grace is enough? This feeling of freefalling into someone else’s mercy and righteousness is really quite unnerving. Sometimes grace gives me the shivers.

I’ll admit that wifely submission is difficult. But this kind of submission, submission to an alien righteousness, a righteousness that I do not deserve and don’t really even always want, is utterly impossible. I will never, and I mean never, give up the moral high ground on my own. God must humble me and change my heart by his Spirit, compelling me to bow the knee at Calvary, or I will always remain a proud Pharisee.

I don't know about you, but I feel thoroughly chastised, exhorted and empowered. :-) Be sure to read the entirety of her post here.

God bless, and as Mrs. Fitzpatrick says to close her post, "Let’s pray today that the Lord may grant us all, women and men, the grace to submit ourselves to his righteousness and stop seeking to establish our own . . . no matter what form that might take."


  1. Very challenging and insipiring - thank you for posting!

  2. Wow! That is an angle I have never heard before. Thanks!